There is no doubt that Cancun has long been one of the favorite vacation destinations in Mexico among foreign tourists, but Playa del Carmen has continued to compete with Cancun as a top Mexican Caribbean vacation destination. The city has received a fair share of the tourists visiting from the United States, Canada, and Europe this year and continues to fill its hotel rooms even during the off-season months. Some tourism officials even suggest that Playa del Carmen could surpass Cancun in the number of tourists that visit the popular city.
Playa del Carmen sits on the Caribbean coast of the Riviera Maya region and is also, like Cancun, is part of the state of Quintana Roo. The city is about an hour’s drive away from Cancun. Tourists who vacation in Playa del Carmen fly into Cancun International Airport and then take a taxi, shuttle, or another form of transportation from the airport.
A private shuttle will run around $65 and take the typical hour to get there. A taxi can range anywhere from $50-$100 with pretty much the same travel time. A shared shuttle is only about $25 but the journey could take double the amount of time. And the ADO bus is the cheapest option but will take approximately an hour and a half of travel time.
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According to data from the Ministry of Tourism that was recently shared by Solidaridad municipal president Lili Campos, Playa del Carmen had two especially busy time periods this year. During the week of the Easter holiday, the city welcomed 543,000 visitors and during the summer months, 1.3 million tourists vacationed in Playa del Carmen. These two weeks alone set the city further ahead than expected in regard to tourism numbers.
Playa del Carmen has much of the same thing to offer as Cancun but on a smaller level, with a population of only about 150,000 compared to Cancun’s 600,000 residents. Cancun also has a more vibrant nightlife than its smaller counterpart, and as such is typically more sought out by the younger tourists. Both places do have family-friendly options and other than a slight variation in hotel costs everything else is similarly priced.
Playa del Carmen is known for its breathtaking beaches, beautiful coral reefs, and more laid-back atmosphere compared to larger destinations like Cancun. In addition to the many beaches and the usual water sports enjoyed by visitors to the Mexican Caribbean, there are many tours that can be taken from the city as well. Cenotes, Mayan ruins, adventure parks, and more are only a short trip away and there are all kinds of tours that will take you to these places.
Ride a buggy or ATV through the jungle and stop to swim in a cenote or zipline through the trees. Enjoy the unspoiled beauty of Isla Holbox with a day trip to the island paradise. Take one of many food tours to get a taste of authentic Mexican cuisine. Or experience your adventurous side snorkeling, scuba diving, or swimming with whale sharks.
No matter where you go in the Mexican Caribbean adventure waits around every corner. This is why places like Playa del Carmen continue to grow in popularity and compete with even the most popular tourist destinations like Cancun. A visit to either place will surely result in the vacation of a lifetime and memories that will last forever too.
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